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Five takeaways from the Lakers’ 97-77 win over the Phoenix Suns

Lou Williams, Jordan Clarkson, Brandon Knight

Lakers guards Lou Williams and Jordan Clarkson surround Phoenix Suns guard Brandon Knight during a Jan. 3 game at Staples Center.

(Rick Loomis / Los Angeles Times)

The Lakers (8-27) won their third game in a row, defeating the Phoenix Suns (12-25) on Sunday night. 

Here are five takeaways from the Lakers’ 97-77 victory at Staples Center:

1. For three quarters, the Lakers beat up on the Suns. The Lakers set season highs in fewest points allowed in a game (77), in a first quarter (10), in a second (12) and a half (22). The 38-point lead was also a season best, and the Lakers’ only wire-to-wire victory.

2. Jordan Clarkson dunked on Suns center Alex Len. Roy Hibbert extended for a one-armed slam. The Lakers bench seemed to have as much fun as the Staples Center crowd, if not more.

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"[Clarkson] caught a true seven-footer in Alex Len,” said Larry Nance Jr.  “That was impressive. He went off too and just cocked it back.”

Forced to choose, Nance said he preferred Hibbert’s dunk, which included a “dab” celebration from the veteran center.

Clarkson agreed.

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“He came down the lane, had a little ball fake,” Clarkson said. “He didn’t even get up that high. He dunked all arm, but it was nasty though.”

3. The Lakers started their three-game winning streak in Boston over the Celtics, then back at home over the Philadelphia 76ers. The Suns were a worn-down unit, playing their fourth game in six nights and their second in as many days.

Clearly, the Lakers have improved, but they have a difficult meeting at Staples Center on Tuesday, hosting the Golden State Warriors (31-2).

Lou Williams, who led all scorers with 30 points, likes the way his team is playing over this recent stretch.

“I just think once you win one, you win two, next thing you know, you start paying attention to the things that got you to that point,” Williams said. “So now guys are communicating more.”

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“It’s a better team effort overall,” he continued.

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4. Though the Lakers dominated the first three quarters, they struggled through the fourth period and were outscored 26-16. That’s with the Lakers going on a late run with their starters to seal the win.

“I just went in and talked to the guys about the fourth quarter,” Coach Byron Scott said. “I just told them I wasn’t happy and that we didn’t come out in the fourth quarter with the same aggressiveness and intensity that we had the first three quarters. That’s why we yanked those guys back out and put the starters back in.”

The Suns got as close as 14 points before losing by 20.

5. The Lakers are still in last place in the Western Conference, better than just the 76ers (3-33).

The Lakers are eight games behind the eighth-place Houston Rockets (16-19) and three behind the 14th-place Suns.

Looking ahead to the 2016 NBA draft lottery, the Lakers would have a 55.8% chance of a top-three pick in next June’s draft. If the Lakers fall below third in the lottery, Philadelphia will get the team’s pick as part of the Steve Nash trade, via Phoenix.

Email Eric Pincus at eric.pincus@gmail.com and follow him on Twitter @EricPincus

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